I’ve said it before: religion is an innate part of human nature. Someone can give up on organized religion, but he can’t give up on being human, so religiosity will still be a part of his character. Those who give up on church just transfer their religiosity to other things. Unfortunately, most of them are poor replacements. And the worst replacement is the most common:the Church of Social Justice.
To show what I mean, let’s look at some academic definitions of religion. The first is from cognitive anthropologist Scott Atran:
Roughly, religion is (1) a community’s costly and hard-to-fake commitment (2) to a counterfactual and counterintuitive world of supernatural agents (3) who master people’s existential anxieties, such as death and deception.*
Anthropologists Richard Sosis and Candace Alcorta defined it as “myth, ritual, taboo, symbolism, morality, altered states of consciousness, and belief in noncorporeal beings.”** Sociologist Emile Durkheim defined it as a “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things . . . that unite into one single moral community . . . all those who adhere to them.”**
The social justice movement fits almost all of these characteristics. Here are a few that most readily came to mind:
counterfactual and counterintuitive world of supernatural agents / belief in noncorporeal beings: blame the world’s problems and personal misfortune or lack of succsss on vague, unprovable notions like “institutional racism” and “the patriarchy”.
myth: hate hoaxes, retconning diversity into the past in ridiculous ways (such as the BBC portraying sub-Saharan Africans living in Roman Britain as typical)
ritual: protest marches, diversity seminars
taboo: violating PC culture, microagressions, cultural appropriation
morality: violating the taboos above are often considered unpardonable sins
sacred things: worship of diversity for its own sake, sacralization of anything on the fringe-the fringier the better, abortion
I’ll make posts in the future as I come across more examples of religiosity within the social justice movement.
* Scott Atran, In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion, 2002
**Richard Sosis and Candace Alcorta, “Signaling, solidarity, and the sacred: the evolution of religious behavior,” Evolutionary Anthropology, Vol. 12, No. 6, Nov. 2003, pp. 264-274, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002%2Fevan.10120, http://www.anth.uconn.edu/faculty/sosis/publications/sosisandalcortaEA.pdf.